I set out to do a normal neck reset on a 1940's L-00 acoustic.  Ued a heater blanket to soften the neck extension and used a spatula to release the glue. Took off the 15th fret, drilled a hole for my steamer needle, put on the neck removal jig, heated up the cappacino maker to the steam stage, inserted the needled and had a million rags ready to sop up the moisture. No problems so far! Well, this is where it all went south.

The neck joint wouldn't budge,even after about 10 minutes of steam!  I was frantically sopping up moisture from the steam around the fretboard extension, but as you can see, it dulled the finish, yellowed the black color between the fretboard and the soundhole, and turned the finish white in some spots on both sides of the soundhole on the upper bout...what the heck is that?!  The steam also shot out of the truss rod channel on the headstock and before I realized it, it had bubbled some of  the finish a little and dulled it. And to add to the frustration, the finish was softened the heel cap and came off with the caul I had between the fixture and the heel.

And the neck joint still didn't come loose!  Is there something unusual about this neck joint on this model?  Any suggestions on how to get the neck off and repair the finish damage, aside from a refinish?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

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The headstock face is 'usually' made of a type of fiberboard.  Since I can't get a 'hands on' look, and feel.... you may want to remove those tuners and just wet sand the bad area's. (DON'T sand the logo!) Then buff it up to a sheen, etc.  I like to start out with a 800 grit then-1000, 1200, 1500, 2000 and up. 


I absolutely love these!!!;

Stew Mac sells it for about 2.5 times the price too.  Get them!

I like to use a 5%-10% of Murphy's Soap as a lube in the warm water...perfect lube for the job.

This company has a great item for polishing pick guards too... to a gloss! Check them out.

Cutting the fretboard is your call...whatever you're comfortable doing.  I'd use that exacto blade again...cutting to the wood. Try the exacto before you go and cut the fretboard.  When injecting the steam, I like to turn the guitar upside down..letting the water drain out a second hole. Alternate inject both holes.

Let us know how you wound up with this project too! Love to hear from you.

This is beyond a shadow of a doubt the neck reset from hell! I drilled a second hole in the 15th fret, didn't see any light colored wood, tightened the trust rod, held the guitar upside down and tried to steam the joint again. The joint did not come loose. And to make matters worse the finish bubble on the underside of the neck from internal heat (I didn't steam it vary long) and the neck jig slid and indented the binding and about 1/2 inch in on the top at the heel joint. Any ideas on how to cover my left-footed tracks on the dent? With a damp cloth and and heat? There will undoubtedly have to be finish touch up.   I will also probably have to replace about an inch of the binding and age it, if I ever get the neck off! Geez!


Frank Ford, Chris, Jim, anyone?

I'd say the next step is to severe the fretboard and remove it, so you can see the dovetail joint. It will come off.
Was the guitar ever worked on before? If so, maybe it was glued with epoxy. If it was never off, then it would be glued with hide glue, which is easy to melt with steam.

There is no way to know if it was worked on before. The current owner doesn't know. If it is epoxy, then what do you recommend to remove it?

Epoxy will let go with heat too, but you need at least 300°C and some patience (and a lot of luck :-)). With a neck joint that's been epoxied in, you have to saw the fingerboard off and remove it so you have direct access to the joint. And then apply heat as localized as you can manage with a heat gun. A neck removal jig is also a good idea to be able to apply pressure, and help the epoxy let go as it gets warmer. Be prepared for finish damage, you can worry about that one after you've got the neck off. Good luck, if it is epoxy you have an ugly job on your hands...Don't ask me how I know...



I think I will cut off the fretboard extension at this point. Since the joint will have to be steamed again to get the neck out anyway and since the steam is getting into the truss rod channel and causing finish bubbling on the bottom of the neck (is there anyway to prevent this?), it is probably better to do it with the dovetail joint open so I can focus the steam and get the neck to come loose with only one more steaming job and then deal with the finish damage. This should minimize the amount of additional damage. What do you all think? I am thinking I will make the cut at the 14th fret (where the neck meets the body).

Philip,  I would cut at the 14th fret to get a good view of the top.  If the top is covering the dovetail, which is possible, then you'll have to make a cut-out to expose the dovetail.


Yea it sucks.  Charge EXTRA!




If I have to cut a fretboard I'll cut it at the 13th fret( I got this tip from Dan Erlewine, years ago). The reason is that it doesn't weaken the body to neck joint, as it overlaps that joint when it's glued back on.(the severed fretboard is glued onto neck and also the body)

The way I've removed epoxied neck joints is by heating a thin spatula(same one I loosen the fretboard extension) and force it into the neck end of joint and neck block glue joint.Don't force it into where the neck mates with the sides. I heat the spatula with a propane torch, force it into the joint. The melting epoxy will smell bad, but that means it is melting.

It will take time and patience, but it will let go eventually. If you are careful you shouldn't have any serious finish touchup to do.


Thanks Jim. I think the 13th fret cut make the most sense. I am very leary of re-steaming the causes so much finish bubbling on the neck. Would the spatula method work even if it is hide glue, or is the moisture important to release the hide glue?

If it's hide glue, it easily lets go with minimal steam, you won't need the spatula to work through the joint. If it was hide glue it should have let go on your first steaming attempt. You may have one of the Gibson's where the top is glued over the dovetail joint, but you will find out once you remove the fretboard extension. 

All repair people run into problems on occasion, It's a good thing because we learn from it.



Halleujah!!   I got the neck off!  I cut the fretboard at the13th fret and removed the fretboard extension. The dovetail was not covered by the soundboard. I then proceeded to steam the joint. It took 30 minutes of steam and when it came off I could see that it had also been glued to the sides. If it was hide glue, it was tough stuff!  With the dovetail open I had no problem with steam overheating the neck. It took forever, but it finally came loose and looks good!  Now I can do the reset and get onto fixing the damage that occurred the first go around before I removed the fretboard extension.


Thanks everyone for the advice and help!


One thing I always do when removing a neck is rock it slightly. Once I've steamed it to the point that I think it should come off, I grab the neck in the nut area and try rocking it sideways and watch the neck to body joint for movement and moisture seepage. At that point the neck removal tool should be able to push the neck off. 

The Gibson's have the neck glued to the sides, which can cause problems, and it was what was causing your difficulty, I'm sure.

Hide glue lets go easily with steam. Your neck may have been reset in the past and glue with Titebond, which is tougher to loosen. Next neck removal try the neck rocking method I mentioned, it will help. Also when you have  steam holes, on both sides of the fretboard, you can move the steam needle between holes to get the steam evenly into the joint.

I also use a large pressure cooker(maybe about 4 to 6 quart size, I don't want to run out of steam) with only about an inch of water and a 2 1/2 to 3 foot heavy rubber hose with steam needle. 





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